Bread – Judgment

October 17, 2011


Readings for Monday, October 17, designated by the Book of Common Prayer: Jer. 44:1-14; 1 Cor. 15:30-41; Matt. 11:16-24; Psalms 9, 15, 25

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“Judgment” is an interesting word, because it has at least two senses. The first sense is that of discernment, where we learn to separate the good from the bad. If we have “good judgment,” it will lead us into making good decisions for our health, for our life, for ourselves, for our family, and for our society. If we have “bad judgment,” the opposite happens and we end up making decisions which bring harm to us. The second sense is that of the result of discernment, a choice in which some things are labeled “good” and given the rewards which go with that label and other things are labeled “bad” with the consequences which go with that label. In our current culture, we are taught that the first sense is OK, that we can discern all day long, but the second sense is not OK, because to actually act on that discernment by labeling some actions “bad” and others “good” ends up “hurting” someone (generally, the person with the “bad” action label). Oftentimes, “judgment” is related to the consequences of choice (i.e. punishment), but really judgment is both the process of making the choice and the choice itself.

In our Scripture readings today, the writers and Jesus Himself are very, very, very clear – God is a God of judgment (in both senses) and God is a God of action (He will act upon His judgment). This is a message which our culture does not want to hear, because inherent in this message is a message of standards of life (set by God), measurement by God of us against that standard, and choice (by God) of whether the standard has been met, resulting in a separation of people into two classes, the saved and the unsaved.

Lest you think I am exaggerating, these passages are listed below:

Judgment in the Old Testament reading today: “This word came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews in [Lower and Upper] Egypt…They provoked Me to anger by burning incense and by worshiping other gods…Again and again I sent My servants the prophets, who said ‘Do not do this detestable thing that I hate!’ But they did not listen or pay attention; they did not turn from their wickedness…Therefore, My fierce anger was poured out; it raged against the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem and made them the desolate ruins they are today.” Jer. 44:3b-6

Judgment in the Gospel reading today: “Then Jesus began to denounce the cities in which most of His miracles had been performed, because they did not repent. ‘Woe to you, Korazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! If the miracles that were performed in you had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, it will be more bearable for Tyre and Sidon on the day of judgment than for you.” Matt. 11:20-22

And then from the Psalms: “The Lord reigns forever; He has established His throne for judgment. He will judge the world in righteousness; He will govern the people with justice….The Lord is known by His justice; the wicked are ensnared by the work of their hands. The wicked return to the grave, all the nations that forget God. But the needy will not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the afflicted ever perish.” Ps. 9: 7-8,16-18 “Lord, who may dwell in Your sanctuary? Who may live on Your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous,…” Ps. 15:1-2a “Good and upright is the Lord; therefore He instructs sinners in His ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them His way. All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of His covenant…May integrity and uprightness protect me, because my hope is in You.” Ps. 8-10, 21

God has judged, He is judging, and He will judge. He sets the standard of discernment and He chooses based upon His assessment of which side of that standard we fall.

The Psalmist asks, against the force of God’s judgment, “Who may live on Your holy hill?,” and answers his own question – “He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous [right in God’s sight].”

Is your walk blameless? Do you do what is right, by God’s standards, every day by every minute by every second, all the time in all circumstances?

Of course the answer to these questions is “No.” It is “no” for me and I daresay for everyone who walks the planet.

Fortunately for those persons who abide in the True Vine, in Jesus Christ, there is no fear of judgment, no fear of condemnation because when God the Father looks at us, He sees His Son, Jesus Christ, who did meet His Father’s standards, every second of every minute of every day for eternity.

So for us, judgment is not a bad word. It is not a word to be feared. It is not a word to be avoided.

To which I say, Thank you Jesus! Amen.

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